Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota has a sprained left knee, and his left tackle has a sore back. The physical ailments are nothing like the frustration felt by the Titans after turning in their lowest-scoring performance all season.
And it couldn’t have been more costly, leaving Tennessee now looking up at Jacksonville in the AFC South with three games remaining.
The Titans scored only one touchdown in the second quarter of a 12-7 loss to Arizona. They have only themselves to blame for mistakes that led to two interceptions, a rookie not finding a pass that might’ve been a touchdown and an anemic run game.
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And that doesn’t include the fake punt that was so close it was overturned on review, giving Arizona the ball on Tennessee’s side of the field for an easy field goal.
”We’ve just got to do a better job of execution across the board,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Monday. ”We didn’t have very many mental errors, probably one of our least mental errors games. But unfortunately those ones we had were right at the point of where the ball was going to be, either thrown or run.”
The Titans (8-5) did get some good news Monday. Mariota sprained the left knee he already protects with a brace, but Mularkey doesn’t expect that to keep him from Sunday’s game at San Francisco (3-10). Left tackle Taylor Lewan will need treatment after being forced from the game in the second quarter, but he also is expected back at practice.
Mariota blamed himself for the interceptions , including one near the goal line. Mularkey said the knee injury, which didn’t cost Mariota a snap, did affect both the quarterback’s throws and limited what the Titans could call offensively.
”He missed some throws he usually doesn’t miss,” Mularkey said. ”I definitely think it had a little bit of an effect, it certainly did in the play calling.”
That led the Titans to finishing with just 204 yards, their third-fewest yards this season with all three games resulting in losses. They ran for just 65 yards a week after a season-high 198 yards rushing.
Wide receiver Rishard Matthews took the blame for one interception where he should have gone in front of the defender instead of turning outside. He said they have to clean up the ”self-inflicted wounds.”
Even the defense, which tied its season-high with eight sacks, also has areas for improvement. Mularkey says defenders tried to do too much, leading to Arizona running for 136 yards. That snapped an eight-game streak where Tennessee had not allowed an opponent to run for more than 100 yards.
Tennessee did hold Arizona to only four field goals.
”We have to bounce back,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. ”We still have a chance of making the playoffs and winning our division. Everything is still in front of us. We let one slip away.”
The Titans still control their fate. They currently hold the AFC’s No. 5 seed for a wild-card berth, and after playing the 49ers they host the Los Angeles Rams (9-4). The Jaguars visit in the regular season finale with the AFC South title likely on the line if the Titans clean up their mistakes.
They are spending this week in Arizona to limit the travel between back-to-back road games.
”It’s very fixable,” Mularkey said of their offensive execution. ”There’s things in life that aren’t, this is one that is.”
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